Opinion: Jim Clark gets it wrong with democratic socialism
June 24, 2016
I always read Jim Clark's opinion articles in the Bonanza, shake my head, and hope very few read it or agree with his views. But his views in his last column — "Why democratic socialism is a bad idea" — were a danger to the world economy, to America's economy and to democracy.
I went to the Nevada Caucus with my 13-year-old daughter, Liberty, in February, and found there were dozens and dozens of people in Incline Village who were interested in change, in "democratic socialism."
Mr. Clark has completely mischaracterized that definition. Look it up in Wikipedia, please. According to the International Encyclopedia of Political Science, "Social Democracy … rest(s) on three fundamental features: 1) democracy, 2) an economy partly regulated by the state, and 3) a social support to those in need."
Wow, how awful is that? If your taxes go to schools, and you don't have kids, that's Social Democracy. If your taxes go to roads, highways and bridges, but you don't drive, welcome to Social Democracy.
If you don't believe in child labor, slave labor or environmental degradation for profit … Social Democracy. We Americans, our Founding Fathers, created a government with checks and balances for people with divergent views. We invented a government to take care of our people, all of our people.
Mr. Clark, in your written opinions, you favor the Market Economy. The Market is the Ultimate Good. Higher wages? Not good for the Market (less profit). Employee protections? Not good for the Market. Environmental Protections? Not good for the Market. Wage and Tax Equality? Not good for the Market.
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Free Market Trade Deals that ignore all of these? Good for the Market. But what is "the Market"? Is it a country? Is it a corporation? A cabal of corporations? Is it a group of individuals? Millionaires? Billionaires? No, it is an undefined, nebulous entity. Pray to that.
Mr. Clark, you also fear tax increases levied against the high earners "in which the rich have brutal taxes levied against them that a benevolent government uses to pay for free stuff to give to the less fortunate who feel entitled to it."
First of all, though exact figures are complicated, our tax rate today on the higher earners is at 35%. That's not counting all the loopholes and the offshore tax-free accounts (See the Panamanian Papers).
During the eight years of the Eisenhower Administration that rate was at 91% (POLITIFACT: Winner of the Pulitzer Prize). At the start of the Reagan Administration it was at 70%. Reagan cut taxes in 1981, but in 1982 pushed the "largest peacetime tax increase in American history," according to economist Bruce Bartlett, that "raised taxes to deal with the budget deficits" the tax cut created.
Those series of tax increases year after year took half the tax cuts back. Today, there are no "brutal taxes." Quit selling that myth.
One last thing. Mr. Clark, you were especially insulting and uninformed when you stated that the government uses taxes "to pay for free stuff to give to the less fortunate who feel entitled to it."
You clearly don't understand hard working people. It's not the same people all the time that are less fortunate. The less fortunate, and the more fortunate, revolve.
Let me give you a sports metaphor, Mr. Clark. The NFL is a perfect example. Every season, in every sport, there are winners and losers. That is a mathematical fact. However, through redistribution (salary caps and fines, plus a fair lottery system for choosing quality players), winners and losers change places season to season.
Losers don't stay losers for long, and winners don't stay on top forever. That's the same for real people in a fair economy.
You have it wrong, Mr. Clark. According to studies, it is not the same people sucking off the teat of the government year after year. With government help, people and families rise up, and succeed.
But equally, due to unfortunate circumstances, people and families fail and fall. Then they work harder, and earn their way back to success. Helping people who have fallen on hard times is not a sin. Surely you know people who have needed help, got help, and overcame.
We have a government "of the People, by the People, and for the People." Quit trying to ignorantly rip it apart. What purpose does that serve? We are all in this together, on this planet, and in our beautiful country, the United States of America.
Steve Hanson has lived more than 28 years in Incline Village.